Environment

The Four Critically Endangered Kingfisher Species

Kingfishers are colorful birds of the Coraciiformes order.

Birds of the Order Coraciiformes include motmots, kingfishers, todies, and bee-eaters. These vibrant birds are usually found in the Old World with only a few species living in the New World. Some of the species of Coraciiformes are threatened with extinction. The four most threatened or critically endangered species among them are as follows:

4. Blue-banded Kingfisher

The Alcedo euryzona is a critically endangered kingfisher species that is endemic to the Indonesian island of Java. Only a few records of sightings of this bird exist since the 1930’s and it is believed that the species might be under-recorded due to its remote habitat and shy nature. Although a confirmed census does not exist, it is estimated that the population of this bird is in the range of 50 to 249 mature individuals. The species is known to live near streams and rivers flowing through forests or mangrove areas. They can be found at elevations of up to about 1,500 m. The pressure of development in the habitat of this bird is very high. Large areas of the forests inhabited by the blue-banded kingfisher have been cleared for agriculture and human settlements. Uncontrolled fires in such forests also threaten the birds’ survival.

3. Mangareva Kingfisher

The Todiramphus gambieri is a kingfisher of the Alcedinidae family that is found only in the Niau island of French Polynesia. Here, the bird lives in semi-open spaces like agricultural lands, coconut plantations, etc., located in wetland or coastal areas. The population of the species has highly fluctuated over the past few decades. The population in 2009 was estimated to be about 135 individuals. The restricted range and low population of the species justify its classification as a critically endangered one on the IUCN Red List. The main threats to this species include the degradation of hunting and nesting habitats, competition with rats for food, and predation by cats.

2. Marquesan Kingfisher

The Todiramphus godeffroyi is endemic to French Polynesia’s Marquesas Islands. Here, it lives in the humid lowland forests, mango groves or coconut plantations. Less than 500 individuals of this species are estimated to survive in the wild today. The bird has experienced a dramatic decline in population in the last few decades. It has also become extinct on some of the smaller islands where it was previously found. The forests have been cut down to make space for agricultural and grazing lands. Introduced species like feral cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, etc., further deplete the native vegetation of the forests. Other introduced species like the black rat, great horned owl, and the common myna prey on the Marquesan kingfisher further threatening its survival.

1. Sangihe Dwarf-kingfisher

Another critically endangered species, the Ceyx sangirensis is endemic to Indonesia where it is found on the Sangihe island, and according to scattered sources, also on the Talaud Islands. Several surveys conducted since 1997 have failed to find this species. Thus, it could also be possible that the bird is extinct by now. If populations exist, they are estimated to be extremely small and also declining in numbers due to habitat loss and degradation.

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